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Richards Plavnieks, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History


I want students to leave my courses better historians, writers, and citizens in a society awash in incompatible answers. They live in the history of our future, while in the present their minds are the targets of myriad contending forces. Education is the guarantor of their freedom and independence: freedom from being suborned by the ideas of others, and independence to choose the good for themselves. History supplies the essential context for such a choice.

-Richards Plavnieks

Ordway - 129


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My grandparents came to the United States in 1949 and I myself grew up around the Latvian exile enclave of Rockville, Maryland. As a child and teenager, between 1993 and 1998, I lived in Moscow and Rīga, where my interest in my family’s background was kindled. It couldn't be understood without knowing about the Second World War, and my course toward a Ph.D. in Modern German History was set. I received my Bachelor's Degree in History and German from Stetson University in 2004, and went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study under Professor Christopher Browning for my Master's Degree and my Doctorate, which I earned in 2013. Between 2013 and 2018, I was an Adjunct at Rollins College, Stetson University, and the University of Central Florida. After publishing my book, Nazi Collaborators on Trial During the Cold War: Viktors Arajs and the Latvian Auxiliary Security Police, I was appointed Assistant Professor of History at Florida Southern College, beginning in Fall 2018. The book was translated into Latvian in 2020.


Doctor of Philosophy, earned under the supervision of Professor Christopher Browning, Modern German History concentration / Eastern European History and Gender Studies subfields, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, March 2013

Master of Arts, History. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 2008

Bachelor of Arts, History Major, German Minor. Stetson University, May 2004


Bacalou and Houlijing are two cats who live with me.



Nacistu Kolaboracionistu Tiesas Prāvas Aukstā Kara Laikā: Apsūdzības pret Viktoru Arāju un Latviešu drošibas palīgpoliciju. Rudīte Vīksne and Renāte Kārkliņa, eds., Lilija Berzinska trans. Rīga: Latvijas Mediji, 2020. ISBN: 978-9934157820. 

Nazi Collaborators on Trial during the Cold War: Viktors Arājs and the Latvian Auxiliary Security Police. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. ISBN: 978-3319576718.  


“Impressions of My Father, Egons Pļavnieks, 1953-2020.” Laiks: Amerikas latviešu laikraksts. 20 February, 27 February, and 6 March 2021.
“Justice Behind Propaganda: Soviet Prosecutions of the Men of the Arajs Kommando.” Latvijas Vēstures Institūta Žurnāls. 2015: Issue 4 (97). December 2015
“The Pursuit, Prosecution, and Punishment of the Latvian War Criminal Viktors Arājs.” Yad Vashem Studies. Volume 40:2, December 2012.


Review of: Thomas Sandkühler. Das Fußvolk der ‘Endlösung’: Nichtdeutsche Täter und die europäische Dimension des Völkermords. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2020. Pp. 431. Holocaust and Genocide Studies. (expected)
Review of: Julie Lindahl. The Pendulum: A Granddaughter’s Search for Her Family’s Forbidden Nazi Past. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. The Historian. Volume 81:3, Fall 2019
Review of: The Making of an SS Killer: The Life of Colonel Alfred Filbert, 1905-1990. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Pp. 241. Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Volume 33:1, Spring 2019. 
“The Imperative of Integration.” Review of: Anton Weiss-Wendt. On the Margins: Essays on the History of Jews in Estonia. Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2017. Pp. 312. Yad Vashem Studies. Volume 45:2, December 2017
“An In-Depth Inquiry into Hitler’s First Death Camp: Chelmno.” Review of: Patrick Montague. Chełmno and the Holocaust: The History of Hitler’s First Death Camp. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Pp. 291. (Fall 2014, H-Net)